In front of a packed crowd, the two teams recreated the 1914 Christmas Game of Truce at Aldershot Town’s ESS Stadium.
After a moving rendition of Silent Night by opera singer Marilena Gant, VIP guests including England legend Sir Bobby Charlton joined more than 2,500 fans to cheer the British team on to a hard-fought 1-0 victory.
Just like the game that was reputed to have taken place in no-man’s land 100 years ago, it was played in a good spirit.
Both sides entertained the enthusiastic crowd with some neat passing football, creating lots of chances to score.
“It’s a great event that brings people together,” said Mike Keating, a serving soldier who came along with his wife Janie and their two girls Isobelle, 14, and Taya 11.
Deb Parker and her family live in Aldershot but have no military connections, she said: “We came because it’s nostalgic – I think it was the Sainsbury’s advert that did it! The military is part of your life if you live in Aldershot.”
LCpl Callum Wilkinson’s goal, just three minutes in, was enough to settle it, with the junior NCO slotting the ball home after Bundeswehr keeper Cpl Andreas Forster got a hand to Pte Matt Glass’s low cross from the right.
The Germans dominated possession from then on and might have drawn level but for some great goalkeeping from Spr Luke Cairney in the first half and substitute keeper Capt Gavin Smyth in the second.
In a thrilling last few seconds, SSgt Florian Stahl smashed the ball against the angle for the Bundeswehr and at the other end there was still time for Wilkinson to poke the ball against the foot of the post.
LCpl Wilkinson said it was a privilege to play in such a prestigious game and score the winner: “I think we should do this every year. When I heard Silent Night at the beginning it sent shivers down my spine.
“My girlfriend and dad are here and it was amazing to score in front of such a big crowd.”
The game was a collaborative venture between the Football Association, the British Army and Aldershot Town Football Club.
As part of the national Football Remembers project, players, staff and fans have been encouraged to pay their respects and commemorate those who swapped football boots for Army boots 100 years ago.
All proceeds from the match will go to the Royal British Legion and the German military’s equivalent charity.
Go to www.footballremembers.com to find out more.